Local and Community News
New York: Naiveté About AIDS Returns
July 25, 2002
Community health providers and AIDS activists across New York say many young people shun HIV testing because they fear a positive diagnosis, feel hopeless about their future or, paradoxically, think youths are not at risk. In addition, they report, doctors are reluctant to offer HIV testing.Adapted from:
"Young people are not getting the support they need," said Luis Ortega, director of education at the AIDS Center of Queens County. "The message should be that testing is a good thing. But, that message just isn't out there."
A study of 55 Bronx doctors who treat adolescents found that most did not offer HIV testing, saying they lacked the time and experience to provide the counseling that should accompany testing. "There is the mentality by some that they can look into a teenager's eyes and tell if he's infected," said Donna Futterman, director of Montefiore's Adolescent AIDS Program, who presented the study at the 14th International AIDS Conference. "With that kind of behavior, we're missing way too many opportunities to getting these youth tested."
At the Montefiore Medical Center program in the Bronx, nurse practitioner Alice Myerson said the number of young people coming in for testing has fallen since the mid-1990s. Now the center relies more on aggressive outreach at beaches, parks, and nightclubs, with young people.
"People who are really at risk, when they come in to get tested, it represents a crisis," she said. "For a lot of people what triggers it is that they get sick or they find out their partner has HIV," Myerson said. She said most young patients with HIV at the Montefiore AIDS clinic are victims of sexual abuse. "When you talk to them, the reasoning is that it's inevitable that I'm going to get HIV so why get tested?" Myerson said.
Jason Ford of the People of Color in Crisis program said, "The crime ridden ghetto is not a place where a kid values his life. To be gay means one day you're going to get AIDS and die, so why protect yourself? Why get tested, why protect yourself if you're a damn abomination?" he said.
Newsday (New York City)
07.21.02; Margaret Ramirez; Peter Bailey
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.